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Before Alpine fire killed six, former owner allegedly used ‘unqualified’ workers

Prosecutors filed court documents Monday accusing the former owner of the Alpine Motel Apartments of employing “unlicensed and/or unqualified personnel” before the fatal 2019 fire.

A preliminary hearing in the criminal case against former Alpine owner Adolfo Orozco and property manager Malinda Mier was set to resume Monday with additional witness testimony. But defense attorney Dominic Gentile asked for the hearing to be continued because of the amended criminal complaint filed by prosecutors. The complaint did not charge the defendants with any additional crimes.

Instead, prosecutors added language that accused Orozco of “employing unlicensed and/or unqualified personnel to maintain the safety of the property,” and “failing to follow up on complaints by tenants and/or requests by staff… to maintain a safe and habitable property.”

Following the hearing, Gentile said he is still determining if he will call additional witnesses because of the amended complaint.

The preliminary hearing is set to resume Tuesday afternoon. The hearing first began in 2020 but was delayed for nearly two years after an investigator working for the defense team refused to testify. At the end of the hearing, Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman is expected to determine if there is enough evidence for Orozco and Mier to stand trial.

The fire on Dec. 21, 2019, left six dead, 13 injured and nearly 50 people without shelter. When the blaze broke out, the building’s fire alarms didn’t work and there was no functioning sprinkler system, prosecutors have said.

The defendants face six felony counts of involuntary manslaughter, along with charges of disregarding the safety of a person resulting in death or substantial bodily harm and a gross misdemeanor count of destroying evidence.

Orozco also faces charges of attempting to dissuade someone from testifying and attempting to prevent a person from reporting a crime.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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